Canada Most of our visits to the Canadian Rockies have been in the winter, so we thought we'd go in September for a change to remind ourselves what it's like when everything isn't freezing cold and covered in snow.
Heathrow Terminal 5 Lounge Thursday - The flight to Calgary didn't leave Heathrow until 6pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy the wares in the Terminal 5 lounge (which was absolutely rammed, as usual).
"Secret" Heathrow Terminal 5 Lounge Our plane was leaving from Terminal 5B and it turned out that there was a lovely deserted lounge in Terminal 5B. We'd have gone there earlier/first if we'd known about that!
Marriott, Calgary Airport The late departure from Heathrow meant that we didn't check in to the Marriott hotel at Calgary Airport until gone 9pm local time (so gone 4am the next day UK time). We managed a quick beer in the hotel's bar before turning in.Lovely beers sampled today:- BrewDog Speedbird 100 IPA (in the BA lounges at Heathrow)- Caravel Red Ale
Sunrise Friday - We were up early (courtesy of the 8 hour time difference) and heading out of Calgary before sunrise.This nice sunrise photo was taken from the car by Judith as we were leaving Calgary.
Straight and Flat The road to Edmonton was very straight and flat and almost 200 miles long!
Durango at the Canadian Energy Museum We decided to pop into the Canadian Energy Museum on our way into Edmonton. Here's our hire car parked outside.It was very interesting and we were the only people there!
Canadian Energy Museum
Canadian Energy Museum In addition to all of the usual indoor museum exhibits, there were a number of old drilling rigs and vehicles in their grounds.
Canadian Energy Museum I thought this old truck looked really interesting in black and white.
Canadian Energy Museum A different view of the same truck.
Canadian Energy Museum More old vehicles.
Canadian Energy Museum Judith with an old oil derrick.
Middle of Nowhere?! As it was still fairly early we decided to try to also pop in to the Alberta Railway Museum on our way into Edmonton. The Alberta Railway Museum turned out to be in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere.
Alberta Railway Museum And then it turned out the Alberta Railway Museum is only open at the weekend (and this was Friday)! Doh! The row of trains parked along their driveway looked really interesting too.
Edmonton So we headed into Edmonton. You can just make out the skyscrapers of central Edmonton in the distance.
Giant Baseball Bat This is the 144th (of 158) best thing to do in Edmonton (according to Trip Advisor at the time of writing).
Edmonton Eventually we made it into the centre of town and checked into our hotel, the Matrix.
Touchscreen This was our first day with the Dodge and the touchscreen was already covered with fingerprints. I'd rather have some actual buttons and a rotary controller (like BMW's i-Drive) instead of a touchscreen any day.
Craft Beer Market Having settled into our hotel we headed out for some dinner. The Craft Beer Market had a very impressive range of beers, of which you can only see a selection in this photo.
Craft Beer Market
Hockey Night We'd bought tickets for a pre-season "friendly" between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. The stadium, Rogers Place,looked almost brand new and was very impressive.
Hockey Night Although the Calgary Flames are winning 2-1 in this photo, they ended up getting crushed 2-6.
Canopy This building was just up the road from our hotel. Good canopy. Their security guard didn't look happy about me taking a photo of it though!Lovely beers sampled today:- Ale Architect Balsam Dark Mild Ale- Common Crown Coppersmith Brown Ale
Alberta Railway Museum (again) Saturday - Having been thwarted yesterday, we went back to the Alberta Railway Museum only to discover that they'd actually closed for the winter a couple of weeks ago. Doh! But as the gate was open, we drove in anyway for a look. And we were glad we did as we met the museum's Secretary in the car park and she offered to give us a tour even though they were closed! So we got to see in loads of places that we wouldn't have had access to if they'd actually been open.
Alberta Railway Museum Our guide also took this nice photo of us.
Underground Tap & Grill Back in town, we popped into the Underground Tap & Grill for a late lunch. As we'd turned up at about 3pm it was deserted.
Skyline It was a lovely sunny day so after lunch we went for a bit of a sightseeing wander. Here's a view of the Edmonton skyline from the James Macdonald Bridge.
Legislature Building We weren't very impressed with the view of the Legislature Building...
Legislature Building ...until we realised that we were round the back :o)
Legislature Building It looked much better from the front (apart from all of the awful 1960s water feature garbage in the foreground).Lovely beers sampled today:- Rural Routes Holstein Milk Stout (Leduc)- Apex Predator Porter
High Level Bridge Sunday - Sadly, Judith had a bit of work to do first thing in the morning, so I went out to take a few photos. There was a great view of the Edmonton skyline fro the south end of the High Level Bridge
High Level Bridge The High Level Bridge itself was also very impressive. This is the view along its pedestrian/cycle path.
Oldest House in Edmonton Built in the 1860s they think.
Walterdale Bridge There was also a nice skyline view from the south end of the Walterdale Bridge.
Walterdale Bridge The view from underneath the Walterdale Bridge was pretty good too.
Walterdale Bridge Lovely clear sky again today.
High Level Bridge (and Dudley B Menzies Bridge) There was a nice view of the High Level Bridge (where I was earlier) from the Walterdale Bridge.
Houses I met back up with Judith at the hotel and we headed out for a walk. There are a few streets of lovely houses right next to the city centre and the river. This must be one of the most desirable places to live in town.
Low Level Bridge and Riverboat
Riverboat and Skyline View
Muttart Conservatory We walked all the way to the Muttart Conservatory, only to discover that it was closed for renovations! Doh! There was a nice view from there though.
Low Level Bridge So we walked back to the centre of town over the Low Level Bridge...
River Valley Funicular ...and up the River Valley Funicular.
Alberta Aviation Museum It was a bit of a long walk to the Alberta Aviation Museum so we popped back to the hotel to pick up our car and drove there instead.
Alberta Aviation Museum They had some impressive displays and have clearly put a lot of effort in to making their museum a great place to visit.
High Level Bridge Streetcar There were a couple of breweries on the south side of the river, also rather a long walk from the hotel. Obviously we couldn't drive there so we dropped the car off back at the hotel and got the High Level Bridge Streetcar, which handily departed from fairly close to our hotel, to Strathcona.
Strathcona Mural The Strathcona district appeared to be very hip and trendy, with lots of impressive murals. This one was huge!
Strathcona Mural This mural was painted on a garage door.
Situation Brewing First we popped into Situation Brewing for a flight of beer (a sample set of four beers of your choice because I don't have the capacity for four full pints) and a bite to eat.
Wheels! Situation Brewing is on quite a busy road and there was a steady stream of interesting cars driving past. This one was particularly impressive. I can't imagine those wheels improve the ride or handling much though.
Polar Park Brewing Literally just round the corner from Situation Brewing is Polar Park Brewing. So we popped in there for another flight (each).
Skyline View After all of the food and beer, we thought we should probably stretch our legs a bit and walk back to the hotel (plus the High Level Bridge Streetcar had stopped for the day by this point).I think this photo was taken at the River Valley Overlook.
Queen Elizabeth Park (maybe) Judith heading down the steps into the Queen Elizabeth Park (I think).
High Level Bridge with Streetcar As we crossed over the Walterdale Bridge we could see that the streetcar was parked on the High Level Bridge. Not sure what's going on there as I'm pretty sure that's not where they leave it for the night.Lovely beers sampled today (two flights of four beers each, so not as massive a session as it appears!):- Situation Brewing Crisp Cucumber Blonde Ale- Situation Brewing PageTurner IPA- Situation Brewing Extrovert Red Ale- Situation Brewing Declan's Dry Irish Stout- Omen Brewing Spilled Milk Stout- Polar Park Brewing Endurance Canadian Pale Ale- Polar Park Brewing One Tame Cheatah North American Wheat Ale- Polar Park Brewing Arctic Foxtrot IPA
Room View Monday - Time for a last look at the view out of our Matrix Hotel room window before we leave Edmonton and head for the mountains.
Flat There were a couple more hours of driving across the flat plains (when we were feeling relieved we'd decided not to drive the 800 miles east to Winnipeg)...
Mountains! ...before we started to see the mountains in the distance.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge We popped in to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on the way past to see if it had changed since Fairmont had been bought by the Accor hotel group. We've stayed here a few times. It's a great hotel in a fabulous location, but it did always look a bit tired and run down. We're happy to report that it's had a bit of a makeover and it's looking fabulous. Hopefully we'll get the chance to stay here again at some point soon(ish).
Icefields Parkway We stopped in Jasper for a light lunch before heading onto the Icefields Parkway, where the views were spectacular, even if the weather wasn't.
Morant's Curve After a few hours we left the Icefields Parkway and headed down the Bow Valley Parkway. The view point at Morant's Curve had been significantly upgraded since the last time we were here, with a larger tarmac car park, a pedestrian crossing and a proper viewing area with a railing. Boooo! It no longer feels like a special "secret" place. I imagine the next time I come here there will be an even larger car park, a couple of tourist coaches and I'll be standing in a crowd of a hundred people taking this photo.
The Malcolm A short while later we arrived at our hotel for the next seven nights - The Malcolm in Canmore. Once we got to our huge room it became apparent why it was costing significantly more than I was expecting. Still, that's what you get for letting Judith book the hotels unsupervised.
The Malcolm The view down the corridor ourside our room. This hotel is almost brand new and it looked and smelled like it.
The Malcolm Terrace View There was a lovely view of the mountains from the hotel's terrace.
Grizzly Paw Brewing As it was quite near to the hotel, we went to Grizzly Paw Brewing for dinner.Lovely beers sampled today:- None! Beer rest day. I did have a very nice Grizzly Paw Black Cherry Cola with dinner though.
The Malcolm View Tuesday - Out and about taking a few photos around the hotel before breakfast. This is a photo of the hotel.
Policemans Creek View Nice reflections.
Boardwalk Mountain View
Sunken Houses The area where the hotel is located was badly flooded a few years ago. So it appears that they decided to raise the land by a few feet before building the hotel. I hope the people that used to live in these houses got some compensation given that access to their garages and front doors has become somewhat restricted!
Emerald Lake To kick things off today, we thought we'd visit somewhere we'd never been to before - Emerald Lake. The weather had been absolutely atrocious on the drive there (although we did see some bears walking along a railway track that ran parallel with the road!) and we'd considered just giving up and going home. It's a good job we didn't though as it stopped raining literally as we drove into the car park.Interestingly, Emerald Lake is also in a different time zone to our hotel so we thought the car's sat nav was broken as it appeared to be telling us that it would only take 20 minutes to drive 75 miles!
Emerald Lake A canoe on Emerald Lake.
Lakeshore Trail There was a trail around the lake. The first third was tarmacked, but the rest was not. After all of of the rain, it was very, very muddy in places. Fortunately we'd turned up in appropriate footware (unlike many people).
Emerald Lake Crowds! For some reason there were hundreds of Chinese tourists here. Probably 80% of the people here were Chinese. Very odd.
Lakeshore Trail View A miscellaneous view at the far end of the lakeshore trail.
Lakeshore Trail View
Chipmunk It's a shame this chipmunk wasn't sitting somewhere a bit more scenic.
Emerald Lake Lodge After completing the lakeshore trail, we popped in to the tea room at the Emerald Lake Lodge (at the end of the bridge) for a light lunch.
Natural Bridge On the way back to the highway we stopped for a look at the Natural Bridge.
Natural Bridge It's a bit easier to see what's going on with the bridge bit in this photo. The previous photo was taken from where you can see the people standing in this photo.
Highway 1 The weather had improved considerably on our way back to Canmore.
Ha Ling Trail As it was still only mid-afternoon, I had the brilliant idea of walking up the Ha Ling Trail to have a look at the view from the Ha Ling Peak. The trail is only 2.4 miles (3.8km) long, but it rises 2,700 feet (820m).This is the view from about half way up.
Ha Ling Peak And this is the view from the top looking north. It was rather nerve wracking walking up on my own as I'd set off rather late in the day so I saw a few people coming down, but no-one going up. And there were plenty of signs around saying that the bears were very active at the moment. That's probably the main reason it only took me 74 minutes to get to the top!
Ha Ling Peak This is a panorama of the view from the top looking north. Canmore is down there somewhere.
Ha Ling Peak Just to give you an idea of where I was, the previous photo was taken looking down from the peak on the right of this photo. Yes, it's as steep and high as it looks (3,600 feet [1,100m] above where the photo was taken).
Ha Ling Peak A panorama of the view to the south.
Dodge An hour later I was very relieved to be reunited with my Dodge, having not fallen victim to the local wildlife. Phew.
Balcony Sky View A random photo from our balcony back at the hotel.Lovely beers sampled today:- None again! Another beer rest day.
Pond Reflections Wednesday - There were nice reflections on the pond next to the hotel as we were walking to the high street for breakfast.
Bow Valley Provincial Park After breakfast we headed to the Bow Valley Provincial Park.
Bow Valley Provincial Park It was quite picturesque, but a bit boring.
Kananaskis Country (Highway 40) So we headed down highway 40 into Kananaskis Country.
Autumn Leaves The yellow autumn leaves looked super against the blue sky.
Autumn Leaves More leaves and sky.
Barrier Lake View Point We walked up to the Barrier Lake view point, which was a bit nerve wracking as there were a lot of berry bushes by the trail. The sort of berry bushes that bears like.
Barrier Lake View Point Still, the view was nice when we got to the view point.
Barrier Lake View We made it safely back to the car and drove down to the lake shore.
Kananaskis Lodge As it was nearly lunchtime, we headed to the Kananaskis Lodge, another place we've stayed a few times before that needed a bit of TLC and has recently got new owners (Marriott this time I think).
Kananaskis Lodge Lobby View And again I'm happy to report that they appear to have done a great job sprucing up a formerly tired looking hotel. Somewhere else to look forward to visiting again.
Smith Dorrien Trail View From the Kananaskis Lodge we headed back to Canmore down the magnificent Smith Dorrien Trail (I have photos of all of our hire cars parked in this very spot)...
Goat Pond View ...where I stopped at the super-scenic Goat Pond to take a few photos of our Dodge (and the scenery).
Goat Pond View
The Malcolm Bar This evening we decided to have dinner in the hotel's bar, which was very nice.
The Malcolm Bar A photo of the light fitting over our table in the bar.Lovely beers sampled today:- Troubled Monk Brown Ale- Canmore Brewing Ten Peaks Pale Ale
Out and About Thursday - Out and about taking a few photos around the hotel. You can just make out Judith walking off into the distance there.
The Malcolm View Technically this is the back of the hotel. Although it's a fair bit more photogenic than the front of the hotel.
Lake Minnewanka After breakfast we headed for Lake Minnewanka, mainly because there are some roads there that are closed in the winter when we're usually here that we thought it might be interesting to drive down.
Lake Minnewanka Canoe
Banff Spirngs Golf Course Loop After leaving Lake Minnewanka we headed for nearby Banff, where we thought it would be interesting to drive around the Banff Springs Golf Course Loop, which is also closed in the winter.There is almost always some sort of wildlife to see around here (mainly because there's a herd of elk that appear to live on and around the golf course).
Bow Falls You have to drive past the Bow Falls on the way into and out of the Banff Spirngs Golf Course Loop, so it seemed rude not to stop and take a photo.
Canmore Approaching Rain A while later, we arrived back at our hotel just ahead of an approaching rain storm, which you can see here in the distance.
Tree? We thought we could walk to a nearby brewery before the rain arrived. On the way we passed this tree, which on closer inspection turned out not to be a tree at all. It's actually a phone mast. Very clever.
Tank 310 Anyway, we made it to the Grizzly Paw Brewing restaurant Tank 310 literally minutes before the rain arrived (there should be a fabulous mountain view out of the windows).
Tank 310 Beer We had a very nice late lunch (the cheesecake was most excellent) and sampled a good selection of their beer thanks to their beer flights. I also tried this bottle of Big Head Nut Brown Ale, which wasn't available in a flight. The bottle turned out to be almost as big as a bottle of wine! It was a good job that Judith helped me a bit with that.
Canmore Brewing Sign After leaving Tank 310 in a lull in the rain, we headed for the relatively nearby Canmore Brewing. We would probably have gone there first, but they only sell a very limited range of food (although they're happy for you to have stuff delivered there from nearby restaurants, which is a bit weird!).
Canmore Brewing Here you can sit and drink your beer in the bit where they actually make the beer.
Canmore Brewing I'm looking very pleased with myself after sampling my sixth different beer of the day :o)Lovely beers sampled today:- Grizzly Paw Powder Honey Blonde Ale- Grizzly Paw Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat- Grizzly Paw Beavertail Raspberry Ale- Grizzly Paw Rutting Elk Red- Grizzly Paw Big Head Nut Brown (giant bottle!)- Canmore Brewing Mine Side Stout
Canmore Engine Bridge/Spur Line Trail Friday - The weather was turning a bit grim and cold, so we decided to just hang around Canmore today. We started out on the Spur Line Trail, which goes over the impressive Canmore Engine Bridge.
Spur Line Trail After a nice lunch in Rocky Mountain Flatbread, we headed back onto the Spur Line Trail, the end of which turned out to be remarkably close to...
Canmore Brewing ...Canmore Brewing. Yay! Time for a flight.
Balcony View Snow! By the time we'd made it back to our hotel, the snow, which had been falling very gently for most of the day, had started to settle.Lovely beers sampled today:- Canmore Brewing Walk-a-Mile Belgian Blonde- Canmore Brewing Flowerdaze Honey Session Ale- Canmore Brewing George Town Brown Ale- Canmore Brewing Mine Side Stout (again)- Canmore Brewing Ten Peaks Pale Ale- Canmore Brewing Misty Mountain Hops New England IPA- Canmore Brewing Railway Ave Rye IPA
Balcony View Snow! Saturday - Overnight there had been about three inches of snow! Very exciting, except for the fact that we'd come to Canada in September to see what it was like when it wasn't sub-zero and covered in snow! Doh!
Policeman's Creek View The local news indicated that the early snow had wrought havoc on the roads, presumably with a combination of locals not having put their winter tyres on yet and tourists that have never seen snow before never mind driven in it. So we decided to play it safe and leave our car in the hotel's car park and just go out for a walk instead.
Train! I was hoping I'd get a photo of a train. This one took me by surprise a bit as the crossing lights started flashing about thirty seconds after we crossed so I started walking back and the train turned up about five seconds later, before I had my camera ready! So I stood watching it pass for about five minutes (because it's really, really long) before taking this photo of what is actually the back. There were two locomotives on the front, two more in the middle and this one at the back!
Iron Goat Pub and Grill A while later, and pretty thoroughly frozen by this point (because the seasonal average temperature was supposed to be around 16C so we'd not really packed for sub-zero snowy conditions), we arrived at the Iron Goat Pub and Grill, which had a very impressive front door. I might add that to my door photo collection.
Iron Goat Pub and Grill Fortunately they had beer and pizza...
Iron Goat Pub and Grill ...and excellent ribs, which Judith is looking very, very pleased about.
Coyote! Later, back at our hotel, I spotted this coyote from our balcony.
Bunnies It's actually hunting bunny rabbits, of which there are very many around Canmore. It looks like some domesticated bunnies escaped at some point and they've done quite well for themselves. They were all over the place.Lovely beers sampled today:- Snake Lake Varsity Hall Red Ale- Medicine Hat Brewing Burnside Blood Orange Ale- Tool Shed People Skills Cream Ale
Lake Louise Sunday - Having spent two days hanging out around Canmore, we felt that we really needed to try to get out and about today. So we headed for Lake Louise, even though we feared it might be rammed out. When we drove past a few days ago at 10am there were signs up saying the (massive) car park was full and you had to park in the overflow car park several miles away and get a shuttle bus up to Lake Louise.However, it appeared that the inclement weather today had put some people off and we just managed to get a space at the very back of the main car park.Notice that there's no snow here at all.
Lake Agnes Tea House I wanted to try to walk up to the top of Big Beehive (on the left of this photo) via the Lake Agnes Tea House (just visible in the centre of this photo), but Judith said the weather conditions weren't really appropriate for that sort of thing today. She was probably right.
Lake Louise So I had to make do with taking a few photos around the lake.
Lake Louise Canoes
Lake Louise Fairview Mountain
Lake Louise Lunch Due to the huge number of people here, the hotel's ground floor restaurant (with views of the lake) was only serving hotel guests. However, Judith had remembered that there was also a restaurant in the basement, which was almost deserted when we turned up (although it filled up rapidly).This picture is from the front of their menu. I couldn't agree more.
Morraine Lake After lunch we headed to Morraine Lake, which is also inaccessible (by car) in the winter. If you've seen a scenic photo of Canada in a brochure or on the internet, it will more than likely be a photo of this lake.
No Entry! (Unless you want to) There were loads of these signs all along the paths around the lake and virtually everyone was ignoring them and just stomping wherever they fancied to get the best photo for their social media.
Morraine Lake Like this guy for example. What is wrong with people?
Morraine Lake Bear Warning I dare say the same people that were ignoring the previous sign probably weren't ignoring this one though. Although on this day group travel was only "recommended" rather than "mandatory", so it can't have been that dangerous. I wouldn't have gone though.
Bear! Judith outside the gift shop.
Balcony View Deeper Snow! Back at our hotel the snow was looking a little deeper.
Rose and Crown Pub For convenience as much as anything, we walked to the nearby Rose and Crown Pub, which was sporting a reasonable selection of beers.
Rose and Crown Pub Here's another one.Lovely beers sampled today:- Wildrose Crown Red Canadian Dark Wheat Ale- Moosehead Grapefruit Radler- Banff Av Brewing Black Pilsner
Sunny Balcony View Monday - Going home day and the sun has come out for the first time in four days! Tcheeeer.
Stirling Lounge Lamp As we needed to pack and check out, we had breakfast in the hotel to speed things along a little. This is a photo of the light fitting over our table in the Stirling Lounge (a three bulb affair, as opposed to the two bulb one I took a photo of in the bar the other day).
Checking Out Bye bye The Malcolm.
Canmore from Whitemans Pond As our flight wasn't until 10pm, we had loads of time to spare. So we decided to have a leisurely, meandering, scenic drive back to Calgary and headed off up the Smith Dorrien Trail again, hoping the snow wouldn't be too bad up there.This is a view looking back down to Canmore from the dam at Whitemans Pond.
Whitemans Pond View And this is a view of the magnificant reflections on Whitemans Pond. In all the times I've driven past here (which is many!), I don't think I've ever seen reflections as good as this before.
Goat Pond View We also stopped in at Goat Pond again to see how much the view had changed since we were last here five days ago.
Goat Pond View Super reflections.
Smith Dorrien Trail View Back in my favourite spot.
Spillway Lake At the southern end of the Smith Dorrien Trail, Spillway Lake was already frozen over, which was impressive as it had only been -5C or so for a few days, which I wouldn't have thought would have been enough to freeze over a lake as large as this.
Highway 40 Sheep Sheep seem to be attracted to the road in these conditions to eat the salt that's spread.
Highway 40 Sheep A bit further on there were loads of sheep. They didn't seem at all interested in moving out of the way when we passed and it was a relief that none of them decided to kick or butt the side of the car.
Bears! We were just commenting that we'd never actually seen a bear around here and wondered if there really were any, when literally five seconds later we drove past these bears forraging by the road!!! We had to turn around further up the road and drive back to get this photo.Then we went to the Kananaskis Lodge for a light lunch.
Bears! On our way back along highway 40 we though tthe bears had disappeared into the woods, until we passed them again a mile or so further up the road.
Bears! I just managed to get this photo before they disappeared into the woods.
Highway 40 This bit of highway 40 is closed for six-and-a-half months of the year. As it was currently still open we decided it would be rude not to drive down it and over the Highwood Pass. We were getting a bit low on fuel at this point and it was a bit nerve wracking watching the range indicator fall rapidly as we climbed higher and higher up to the pass. However, once we crested the pass, the range didn't drop at all for over 40 miles so we comfortably made it to the next petrol station.
Plains View A while later we left the mountains and started driving across the flat bit again, where they appeared to have had more snow than up in the mountains.
Calgary Airport And a while after that we were back at the airport.Lovely beers sampled today (at the airport):- Big Rock Bewing Rhine Stone Cowboy Klosch Style Ale- Wild Rose Wraspberry Ale
Dodge Durango And finally, an honourable mention to our Dodge Durango, a 2.5 tonne flat fronted SUV with a 3.6L V6 petrol engine producing 300bhp that managed to return 34.3mpg over 1,400 miles, its 93 litre fuel tank giving it a real world range of comfortably over 600 miles. I wouldn't buy one, but it was a much more enjoyable companion than I was expecting.